Sabbatical causes AB midfield poser
Mon, 17 Jun 2013 08:53
With Conrad Smith's upcoming sabbatical All Black managment is left with a mild headache as to who is going to be the long-term replacement.
The 68-test All Blacks centre will take a six-month break from the sport after the Rugby Championship and skip the end of year tour.
With his upcoming leave, it could see him shifting the bench for this weekends clash with the French in New Plymouth.
This means that in-form utility back Ben Smith could be shifted to centre for this week's third Test.
Smith has been one of the All Blacks stand-out backs in the first two test wins, starting on the wing.
Assistant coach Ian Foster says this week's test could be a chance to give others a go.
"It's part of our plan. We know we're going to have opportunity later in the year.
"And quite frankly he's a pretty good teacher Conrad [Smith], and these guys seeing what he does and learning from him is also part of their learning curve."
Foster says they see Ben Smith as a long-term centre and could use him for the match in the No.13 jersey.
"I guess it's based on a bit of evidence from last year, where we were pleased with what he did.
"He started against Scotland, had a few other little cameos, and we saw enough there to know that it's an experiment worth carrying on with," Foster said.
Foster says with the series wrapped up it's a good chance to give the uncapped Blues trio of Steven Luatua, Francis Saili and Charles Piutau some game time.
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